Juventus: Allegri must end the Adrien Rabiot experiment

TURIN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06: Adrien Rabiot of Juventus is challenged by Giacomo Bonaventura of ACF Fiorentina during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and ACF Fiorentina at Allianz Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
TURIN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06: Adrien Rabiot of Juventus is challenged by Giacomo Bonaventura of ACF Fiorentina during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and ACF Fiorentina at Allianz Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images) /

You may have already noticed the use of “must” in the title, meaning we couldn’t exaggerate the issue any further — it is becoming exasperatingly annoying not only for the Juventus faithful but also in the eyes of the neutral observers.

Nonetheless, Massimiliano Allegri looks certain of Adrien Rabiot’s prosperity as a Bianconeri player and seems resolute in his endeavour to afford the Frenchman more playing time regularly.

After opting against extending his deal at Paris Saint-Germain, the midfielder joined Juventus on a free transfer in the summer of 2019. At first, it was seen as an impressive coup for the Old Lady as Rabiot had already set his standard very high during his time in Paris.

During his first campaign in Turin, Rabiot earned 28 league appearances, plundering one goal and one assist in Serie A and eventually helping the Bianconeri to the Scudetto under the guidance of Maurizio Sarri.

While the Frenchman’s first season in Italy was rather forgettable, a swift turn in management and the hiring of Andrea Pirlo were initially believed to have an advantageous effect on the professional career and the skillsets of the central midfielder.

A perfect end to the season under Andrea Pirlo’s supervision!

Andrea Pirlo and Adrien Rabiot (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Andrea Pirlo and Adrien Rabiot (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images) /

It took time before Pirlo was successfully able to impose his ideals onto the Bianconeri. But when the former regista ultimately did, he found an adequate disciple in Adrien Rabiot, who could be relied upon with the ball at his feet. Known for his astute technicality in congested spaces, the Frenchman was primarily a central midfielder in Pirlo’s preferred 4-4-2 formation but could also be observed in the defensive midfield position at times.

Playing mostly in a double-pivot alongside Rodrigo Bentancur, Rabiot provided Pirlo with a midfield option, if nothing more. The Frenchman remained inconsistent and his casual displays had ill aftermaths over Juventus’ collective performances, with the Bianconeri showing no sign of composure in the middle of the park throughout the 2020/21 campaign.

Amid concerns over his future in Turin, Rabiot enjoyed an outstanding end to the season, logging two assists and two goals from the last six matches in Serie A and subsequently shushing the rumours that had previously reported that the Frenchman would leave Juventus sooner rather than later.

In a season where Juve failed to lift the Scudetto, Rabiot and his teammates got the taste of victory via the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia.

Another change in management came in the middle of a pandemic that had already endangered the club’s finances. As a result, Juventus chose to keep Rabiot and there was hope the Frenchman, off the back of his fine end to 2020/21, would enjoy a revival under the returning regime of Massimiliano Allegri.

Continued struggles under Max Allegri!

Juventus’ Italian head coach Massimiliano Allegri (L) and Juventus’ French midfielder Adrien Rabiot (2ndL) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images) /

“Rabiot is an extraordinary player. He even himself doesn’t know the qualities he has.” — this was one of the very first remarks that Allegri made regarding Rabiot after taking over the managerial post at Juventus for the second time in his illustrious career.

Five-time Scudetto-winning manager with Juventus, Allegri observed something distinctive in Rabiot that has escaped the gazes of Juventini over the past two years. Since arriving in Turin, Allegri has been a massive admirer of the midfielder. And there is no secrecy in that.

When fit, Rabiot has started every game in Serie A for Juventus this season, making eight league appearances and three in the UEFA Champions League so far. His playing time would have been justified if he had recorded awe-inspiring numbers in return. But, the scenario is simply the contrary.

Despite playing 750 minutes across all competitions (as per Transfermarkt), the 26-year-old Frenchman has only accumulated one assist. It has been more than two months since he last pocketed a goal contribution for the Bianconeri.

Now, let alone the goal contributions, he hasn’t even done the basics correctly so far. If the data from FBRef is taken under the microscope, Rabiot is ranked 11th at Juventus when it comes to shot-creating actions. In the 2021/22 season, the Frenchman has been involved in only nine shot-creating actions in total, averaging an appalling ratio of 1.43 per 90 minutes.

Allegri has usually used Rabiot as a left-midfielder in his favoured 4-4-2 formation. In the possession phase, Rabiot is allowed to move infield in a bid to create space for the left-back to overlap. But whenever passes have reached Rabiot, he has looked bewildered and uncomfortable in possession, putting the responsibility of moving the ball from the midfield to the final third more on the shoulders of Manuel Locatelli and Rodrigo Bentancur or Weston McKennie.

Per FBRef’s data, Rabiot has completed the least progressive passes per 90 minutes in his career this season, and if we take a look at the stats from the point of view of the Juve squad, Rabiot ranks 15th with just nine progressive passes. The most alarming factor amid all these is that he is a regular for Allegri’s Bianconeri.

Since returning to the field after recovering from COVID-19, Rabiot has not reached the 90-minute mark for Juventus, with his 79-minute performance against Fiorentina showcasing no sign of improvement at all. It might be true that Allegri has started to lose faith in the Frenchman.

What does it mean for Adrien Rabiot at Juventus?

Allegri must put an end to the experiment that he is conducting on Adrien Rabiot and stop selling false hope to the French international. If truth be told, Rabiot is not good enough for Juventus, or at least his performances and stats are supporting that theory.

He might not be a controversial figure like Weston McKennie, but Rabiot, unlike McKennie, is far from discovering his finest on the pitch. On the other hand, it is not as if Allegri doesn’t have other options at his disposal. Federico Bernardeschi recently enjoyed his best performance in years from the hybrid role and is currently a much better option than the languid Frenchman.

Surrounded by the success sagas of Manuel Locatelli, Rabiot might ultimately feel that he should move onto pastures new to rejuvenate his dormant career. But that won’t happen until Allegri withdraws the immense faith that he has shown in him. Change is needed — let the manager be the torchbearer of a better future —  which, for now, appears to be a fantasy at Juventus with Adrien Rabiot in the team.